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THE SUBTLE SHADOW

by Dom Watson 2 years ago in depression · updated 29 days ago

THE ALGORITHM

Life can be a bind, don't you think? Round and round we go with our little lives. One massive pulsating algorithm that never lets us stray from the path. Ephemeral and fleeting we traverse the years with only one way of getting off the merry go round. Death.

I've been struggling these last couple of months. My mental health has felt like a constant Yo-Yo over the last four years. I find these dark months incredibly tiresome. After the cheer of Christmas and New Years my mind is in despair that I have to go through this all over again. What happened? Didn't I get it right last year? No one told me it was a rehearsal. Maybe we could invent some new months, shake it up a bit. It doesn't usually get me like this, the subtle shadow. But it has no milieu. Its agenda only to drag you down with it. It was clever this time. I usually see it coming, feel the shadow breathing as it nestles in. It caught me napping. I was so concerned with another health issue that I took my eye off the ball. It housed itself, feasting on the negative vibes of my id. I'm a mess, to be frank, lost, as inconsequential as a mince pie in deep January.

Just recently a mental health nurse asked me if I wanted to kill myself. I don't. I'll persevere and wait till I hear the sweet chimes of March and the glorious tincture of morning bird song. It's all about the subtleties, no matter what the shade. The small things get me through. Lighter evenings, freshly cut grass, the prospect of a beer in the garden. All - at the moment - seem light years away. I feel it, more so than any mental break I have ever had. For the first time it seems the sanctity of spring is drifting away and myself with it. Trapped, displaced, I am disembodied from the things that make me whole.

I'm a mess. When stressed I pull at my eyebrows. It's an obsessive compulsion disorder. Trichotillomania. When I don't have any eyebrows left I move onto my beard. Thank goodness I can't reach the hair on my back, though it does need a shave. I have early onset rheumatoid arthritis in my hands. Aches, pains, an old permeated disc in my spine and a slight ringing of tinnitus. Well at least I can cradle my moobs at night.

Chin up. Fucking what? It'll get better. Oh how? Think positive. Cheers mate, I didn't think of that. Christ, its like living a wet Monday on repeat and coffee has been outlawed. All I want is a dark room and some peace and quiet. Maybe some Tool on my headphones to carry me away on some mescalin induced mind scape away from the banality of the bleating life machine. Not death, a sabbatical in which I don't have to listen to your tripe and banal references to mindfulness. I don't want to listen to whale song and leaves on a summer breeze. I want to smoke a cigarette and drink a bottle of Argentinian malbec and maybe eat some chocolate. And I'll come out of my room when I bloody want, possibly naked and covered in jam.

It is a laborious effort listening to your subconscious when the subtle shadow has cast its vampiric wares. It is tired, stuck in a thick molasses. Everything is viewed through a filter of beige and mediocre party political broadcasts. You are tuned into your own wavelength of "I couldn't really give a flying fuck". People want you well, even your family, get back to work, keep yourself busy. Def Con 1 is activated in your brain and you happily watch the narrow minded melt in front of you while you whistle to Hooker With A Penis. Its okay, they understand I'm going through a tough time.

Tough time? I'm quite creative. Always have been. I have been tarred with the 'he's quite imaginative. Comes out with some weird things,' brush. I didn't ask for it friends. I can't help that my brain is an electrically charged bio mechanical gateway to the deep rooted fables yet to have been written by the limitless lexicon stored in the labyrinthine cloisters of my polymathic noggin. I am to say, a bit odd. I see the world in different hues. I'm a thinker. I think too much is my problem. Always looking for a story. Always looking for a hook. I live in shades of fiction. I sometimes wonder if the subtle shadow has a part to play in that. If reality is harsh I sometimes dissect it into a form of science in my own mind. Perhaps I look too far into it. I lose myself among dark dreams and the belief that all this is some algorithm in which the only escape is death. We all fit into the algorithm, we all have a part to play. Maybe through this depression we see life for what it is. One big merry go round of shit, with only one way off. But then the pills kick in. You balance out. Begin to wear routine like a warm coat . . . until the subtle shadow wakes again.

Don't tell me to got to work because I need some routine. Don't tell me to keep my mind busy with menial tasks to keep the corporate entity chugging along. Don't condescend and patronise me that everything will be okay in the end. You don't know. How do you know? It feels like I need to vomit tar. My depression, my rules. My subtle shadow.

Chill your boots, man. I know, I'm quite on edge if you hadn't noticed. Thing is dear reader, I've changed my meds. Citalopram wasn't doing its job and I've been moved over to Sertraline. I feel like a complete fart in a trance to be quite frank, bubbling with an inherent vitriol for anything. I feel sick but my body doesn't want to puke. I feel tired but my brain is trying to stay awake. My heart feels like its pumping a massive turd through it. I want to shit, but all there is is water.

"Do you do any illicit drugs? Cannabis, Cocaine?" No, but I'll happily take a massive bifta if there is some going. "Well that's not the answer." Shit. I need sleep. Less caffeine, perhaps a change in diet, more exercise. ''Do you know what depression is Dom? "Ah, a chemical imbalance in the brain?" She shrugs, "Well, no one really knows what it is." I recoil, reality freezes and it feels like someone has super soaked me in tepid Christianity and I scamper back into my dark room, Nosferatu-like. No one knows.

No one knows.

Well that's alright. I'll just keep taking the pills and and see how it pans out. I'll be fine and level out. Once again I shall be dancing down the street like Fred Astaire. Sans clothes naturally. Knocking on peoples doors and telling them to embrace Buddha, Call the Midwife and Greta Turnberg. Maybe its time to talk to a professional. But I can't afford to do that what with the new diet. Salad and tofu isn't cheap you know. Does depression abhor cucumber and sweat?

Shadows don't go anywhere. And I don' think a lettuce leaf and some reiki is going to cut the mustard. It will reside within until I die. We are joined now, forever. The subtle shadow has means and wares. But for now it plots its next move while I sup this green tea next to me. It is a force unlike any other, a gravity of insanity and it wants to feel the drop. To succumb. I can't do that just yet.

I need to acclimatise, let the drugs do their work. I'll see how it pans out. I've been here before, I'm sure I will again. But this time I'm documenting my journey. This is a way to keep track of my feelings. The ups, the downs, the can't be arsed and the touch the sky moments. I don't want to preach, I don't want to educate. I find the written word an excellent platform to vent. People may find this useful. Some people will probably find it as useful as a shank to the dick. But for all the vagaries the subtle shadow puts us through, there is one thing we most often forget. Its a part of us now. Its closer than family, closer than your lover. It knows your every thought and every secret. You can't shake it off, you can't outrun it. There's only one thing you can do. Hug it, embrace it. Learn from it. Write about it. Through a blog or embody it in a story. Give it a name, say hello and goodbye. It wont be easy, but hey, no one said life is. Right now, as I type, it's total shit. And it probably will be next week. But that's no excuse to let it win.

Chill, go with the flow. Do what you want to do. Fart in a church - loudly. Knock on someones door and scarper. Piss on your petunias. Don't be dictated to or patronised. Christ, I don't know. Take the algorithm. It's all we have. For now.

depression

Dom Watson

Dom is the author of the fantasy novel The Boy Who Walked Too Far. He is currently writing his next novel, Smoker on the Porch. He vents about mental health as a continued balm against the stigma and cynicism he has faced

Read next: Mental Health: 4 Sept 2017

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